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It started with the wind, on a cold Winter night, much like this. It was almost Christmas, but this Christmas was darker, less cheerful. But I still believed in Santa, in magic and miracles, and the hope that we could find joy again. But our village had given up on miracles, and on each other. They had forgotten the spirit of Christmas, the sacrifice of giving, and my family was no different. I tried to help them to believe again, but we were no longer the loving family I remembered. They too had given up. And eventually, so did I. And for the first time, I didn't wish for a miracle. I wished for them to go away. A wish I would come to regret. And that night, in the darkness of a howling blizzard... I got my wish. I knew Saint Nicholas was not coming this year. Instead, it was a much darker, more ancient spirit. The shadow of Saint Nicholas. It was... Krampus. And as he had for thousands of years, Krampus came not to reward, but to punish, not to give, but to take. He, and his helpers. I could only listen as they dragged my family into the underworld, knowing that I would be next. But Krampus did not take me that night. He left me, as a reminder of what happens when hope is lost, when belief is forgotten, and the Christmas spirit...dies.
~ Omi about her nightmarish childhood encounter with Krampus and his Helpers.
Krampus, also known as The Christmas Devil, is the titular main antagonist of the 2015 supernatural holiday-themed horror-comedy film of the same name, which is based on the mythological creature of the same name.
He's the dark version of Santa Claus who punishes people who have been very naughty on Christmas. Not just children, but adults as well. He has done so for thousands of years, according to Omi in the film. Along with the vast supernatural powers he holds, Krampus is aided by various demonic creatures including his unholy masked Elves that are referred to as his "Helpers".
Physically, he was portrayed by Luke Hawker, while his vocals were done by Gideon Emery.
Krampus appears as a monstrous, horned creature with cloven hooves and hook chains bearing baubles with his name on each of them. Krampus wears a screaming Santa-like mask with long gray hair and a long gray beard. Through the openings in his mask, it can be seen that he has yellow eyes and a mouth full of sharp, jagged teeth. He has long claw-like hands with a couple of gold rings on each of them. He has a dark magenta or crimson red eyes and wears a patchwork robe trimmed with dirty fur. He also has a very long tongue, yet unlike in most other depictions of Krampus, his tongue is not forked.
Krampus is the wicked version of Santa Claus. His only concern is to punish people who have been very naughty and disobedient on Christmastime and/or have lost all of their Christmas spirit. If the people he torments cannot repent, they will be sent to the Underworld.
According to the film's director Michael Dougherty, Krampus greatly enjoys the hunting/cat-and-mouse aspect of what he does.
When the dysfunctional Engel family's clashes cause young Max Engel to become disillusioned with Christmas, his lack of belief and his angry shredding of his note to Santa wishing for his whole family to together incur the wrath of Krampus, who arrives in the neighborhood with his "helpers".
Krampus first brings about a powerful snowstorm surrounding the neighborhood the family lives in (most of their neighbors are gone for Christmas and are thus spared, but anyone else in town is attacked or frozen to death), cutting off all power, including heat. After this happens, Max notices a scary-looking snowman on his front lawn, and the family receives a mysterious bag of toys dumped on the porch. Max's sister Beth leaves for her boyfriend Derek's house to see if he is alright, but on the way, she encounters Krampus. She hides underneath a delivery truck, which Krampus circles before apparently leaving. However, he drops a jack-in-the-box, which releases a creature that attacks and captures Beth.
When Beth's father Tom Engle and his brother-in-law Uncle Howard go looking for her, one of Krampus' minions (one that can "swim" through snow like a shark) attacks them, injuring and nearly capturing Howard before Tom shoots it without death as a result, causing it to flee. Meanwhile, the rest of the family hears Krampus on the roof, but play it off as big squirrels fighting over nuts.
Upon arriving home, Tom and Howard try to calm the family, saying they will board up the doors and windows and have a camp out in the living room. Tom's Austrian mother by the name of Omi warns Tom to keep the fire in the fireplace going. However, Howard falls asleep while he is keeping watch, and the fire goes out. Krampus lowers a hook with one of his minions, a living gingerbread man, which captures Howie Jr., despite the rest of the family trying to save them. During this, they accidentally light their Christmas tree on fire. Following this, Omi tells the rest of the family her knowledge on Krampus:
As a little girl in a poor Austrian village in the aftermath of World War II, Omi tried to use Christmas and Santa to keep her spirits up, but the townspeople's cruelty (knocking her down and taking her loaf of bread, which they all fight over), as well as her parents' constant arguing (during which her own mother rips her Santa doll), causes her to lose all her Christmas spirit and abandoned all hope and faith. That Christmas Eve, Krampus came and attacked her entire hometown, dragging everyone to the underworld except Omi, who he left behind as a reminder to never lose her Christmas spirit. He also gave her a bauble (Christmas ornament) with his name on it. Following this, everyone except Howard is shocked silent.
Howard, not believing the story, tries to go out and rescue his son and niece, but stops when he sees more evil-looking snowmen all over the front yard. Behind them, he sees creatures running around, before Tom and their wives pull him back in and lock the door.
The family tries to stay calm, with Aunt Dorothy watching the kids, Howard's wife Linda trying to salvage the presents, and Tom and his wife Sarah trying to come up with a plan. Eventually, they decide Tom will make a run for an abandoned snowplow he and Howard spotted while looking for Beth, then will return and pave way for the rest of the family, who will follow in the car until they find someone who can help. However, when Max's cousins Stevie and Jordan (whose cruelty was the direct cause of Max's anger) go upstairs to use the bathroom, they hear Beth's voice coming from the attic, and go to investigate. They are attacked, and their screams cause Tom, Sarah, and Linda to run up and investigate, while Howard stays downstairs because of his injured leg.
When the trio gets to the attic, they discover a demonic, "cute" jester who has taken the form of a human-sized jack-in-the-box swallowing Jordan whole. They try to fight it, but other holiday-themed monsters attack, distracting them long enough for the jack-in-the-box to escape through the vents, though they are able to rescue Stevie.
Meanwhile, Howard hears laughter coming from the kitchen and goes to investigate, where he is attacked by a trio of living gingerbread men using a nail gun as a weapon. After they run out of ammo, Howard manages to set them on fire, with two dying and his dog Rosie eating the third. She is then sent into the vents, where Rosie fights the jack-in-the-box, forcing it through the ceiling into the living room.
The other monsters then appear and attack the family, though Aunt Dorothy manages to kill most of them with Howard's shotgun. Before she can shoot the jack-in-the-box, however, Krampus' dark elves break into the house, kidnapping Dorothy, Howard, and Howard's baby girl.
The rest of the family flees the house, but Omi stays behind to confront Krampus and give the others time to escape. Krampus toys with Omi, obviously remembering her, before opening a bag of evil toys that attack her. The family almost makes it to the snowplow, but Tom sacrifices himself to fight the "snow swimmers", which manages to capture him, Linda, and Sarah. Max and Stevie manage to get into the snowplow, only to find it is dead. Stevie is then captured by dark elves, while Krampus confronts Max, giving him a bauble, just like he gave to Omi. Krampus then leaves for his sleigh, and Max knows he alone has to save his family.
Max confronts Krampus right before take-off as he opens the ground to reveal a pit-like portal to the netherworld, giving back the bauble and offering himself up for the safety of his family. Krampus ponders this but then has his elvish minions shove Stevie into the lava doorway before he picks Max up and drops him in. Before he falls, Max apologizes for losing his Christmas spirit.
Max then wakes up in his own bed. After looking outside and seeing the town back to normal, he goes downstairs and sees his family getting ready to open presents. Believing the whole experience to be a dream, Max tells his family he loves them before everyone exchanges presents. However, Max's first present is the Krampus bauble, and the whole family goes silent when they see it, implying they all remember the Krampus encounter.
The house is then revealed to be in a snow globe on Krampus' desk, among many others, giving two possible implications:
The family either has been physically shrunk down or souls imprisoned in the snow globe and will have to celebrate Christmas forever as a twisted version of Hell.
Krampus believes the family has learned their lesson, the snow globe is only showing surveillance of the house instead of containing it, and he is merely spying on them, to make sure that they do not ever lose their Christmas spirit again. (This hypothesis is seemingly backed up by the prequel comic "Krampus: Shadow of Saint Nicholas".)
Engel family neighbors
DHL delivery man
Krampus' real face is never shown in the film, only the mask-like feature on his face. However, both his eyes and mouth could be seen.
Even though Krampus is the main villain of the film, he doesn't make a full appearance until the climax.
One of Krampus' gingerbread henchmen named "Lumpy" was voiced by Seth Green who is best known for his portrayal as Scott Evil of Austin Powers fame and Chris Griffin of the Family Guy franchise.
Krampus and his minions appear in a horror attraction based on the movie at Universal Studios during Halloween Horror Nights.
Krampus is sometimes introduced by "Gruß Vom Krampus", or "Greetings from Krampus", which is written on the bauble-like bells he gives Omi and her grandson Max.